As the season comes to an end, we can’t leave out le Bal des Débutantes, which took place in Paris at the end of November at the hotel Shangri-La Paris. It is an annual event, a rare combination of old world protocol, elegance, internationalism; and a modern approach to the definition of — to put it historically — “Society.”
Le Bal in the days of long ago (centuries) was a perfect device when women had no rights and remained out of the picture except for their role as a mother, daughter, wife. It was the customary way to give the male element a look at the possibilities in the marriage department, financial and otherwise.
It was a massive dance party where the eligible (read: desirable) women — because of their actual potential value ($$$) — were presented for the right world to see. It was a custom for centuries but began to change radically with the opening of the New World (the Americas).
Le Bal des Débutantes is important more than socially because these debutantes hail from different cultures and corners of the world. And they represent ancient aristocratic clans as well as individual achievement and excellence. Le Bal also serves as the Debutantes’ first “Haute Couture fashion show.”
Last year, Bristol Fales-Hill was a debutante from New York. She’s a Junior at Harvard, class of 2025, double concentrating in Economics and Art History. Granddaughter of Josephine Premice and Timothy Fales, a descendant of Governor Bradford of the Mayflower and Massachusetts Bay Colony, she’s also a great-granddaughter of DeCoursey Fales, founder of the Fales Library at NYU and Commodore of the New York Yacht Club.
There is an important charity element to le Bal. This year’s event benefited two charities — the Washington-based “World Central Kitchen – WCK,” which provides meals in the wake of crisis in different parts of the world; and the Paris-based cardiology research unit ARCFA of “Necker-Enfants Malades Hospital,” which improves the quality of care for children with heart defects all over the world. The patrons of le Bal were V MUSE Jewelry and the hotel Shangri-La Paris.
The Debutantes ranged from 17 to 21. They wore Haute Couture or Couture gowns from different designers; and V MUSE, the jeweller of le Bal, chose a special piece for each, according to their personality and their gown. Their dashing cavaliers wore white tie.
For the year 2023, Ophélie Renouard and her team gathered 21 young women and men from exceptional families with diverse backgrounds, from twelve countries.
Here are some examples:
Victoria Mestre-Cisneros lives in Miami. However, the Cisneros’ are a prominent Venezuelan business family. Her Cuban maternal grandmother is passionate about contemporary art and she is starting a private museum in Spain. Her cavalier for the Bal was her cousin Lucas Macaya Cisneros.
Ella McCaw is the daughter of American telecom entrepreneur, sport team owner and investor John McCaw. Her mother Gwen was an equestrian after being a model. Ella studies finance marketing and sales. She is proud to have won the “under 25 racing cars Grand Prix.” For her gown she selected the American Couture brand Fovari. Her Scottish cavalier, Archie, Marquess of Lorne, wore his family kilt.
Olivia Ford Uzielli is the great-great-grand daughter of American industrialist Henry Ford. Oscar de la Renta — who did her grandmother’s Anne Ford’s wedding gown — dressed her for le Bal. Her cavalier was Count Rodolphe de Grunne.
Lara Connor is an American “fashionista,” pursuing a degree in government. Carolina Herrera dressed her, and her best friend Patrick D. Bennett was her cavalier.
Luisa Dub is from an artistic family and is studying graphic design. She’s passionate about films, like her cavalier, Ethan Zhang, the son of acclaimed film director Zhang Yimou. Louisa models sometimes for Ralph Lauren, who dressed her for le Bal.
Liza Webster, from North Carolina, is the youngest of four children who all took part in le Bal. Her family is well known for her generosity and philanthropy in their community. Her gown was created by Haute Couture designer Guo Pei. Her brother William was her cavalier.
Hannah Husain lives in New York City, but is the first deb from Pakistan. Her great-grandfather founded the Unionist party in India, while his brothers were ambassadors all over the world. Although she lives in New York, her mission is to help educate Pakistani girls. Her Haute Couture designer is Elie Saab. Her older brother Harris was her cavalier.
Angelina Jordan is from both the US and Norway, and lives in Los Angeles. At age 17, she is already a singing and publishing phenomenon with already 550,000 followers on Instagram. Each of her performances generates millions of views on YouTube and TikTok. Kiran Sukarno-Seegers, whose grandfather was the first President of Indonesia, was her cavalier.
Countess Lara Cosima Henckel von Donnersmarck lives in L.A. She is the daughter of acclaimed German film director Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck, who won an Oscar for The Lives of Others. She is passionate about fashion and has interned the last two summers with Haute Couture brands and gained more than 40 million views on TikTok in the span of two months after she started posting her journey. Gaultier Paris was her designer of choice and Ildiko’s brother, HIRH Karl-Konstantin, was her cavalier.
HIRH Archduchess Ildiko von Habsbourg-Lorraine, the Deb from Hungary, is both an Imperial and Royal Princess. Here family has been active since 964. She is studying in Segovia, Spain. Alexis Mabille Haute Couture fits her perfectly. Along with her brother Karoly, Ildiko is following the footsteps of her sister Sophia, who was a debutante in 2022.
Her cavalier was HRH Prince Constantin d’Orléans.
Marchesa Barbara Berlingieri is a member of a Venetian Family, all of whom live in the family palazzo, Ca’nova, that dates back the 12th century. Barbara is studying in Spain. Her designer was the Italian Haute Couture star Giambatista Valli. Her brother Alberto was her cavalier.
Anya Embiricos comes from one of the oldest Greek shipping families. Her great-grandfather was one of the founders of modern Greek shipping. She lives in Malibu, but never misses a Greek summer. Her cavalier, Konstantinos Manos, also belongs to a Greek shipping family. Anya loves her Greek designer, Celia Kritharioti!
Honor d’Andlau descends from a French aristocratic and a business family. Stéphane Rolland dressed her mother for her wedding and he was Honor’s perfect choice. Her brother Darius was her cavalier.
Yvette Yao belongs to an old Hong Kong family. Her grandmother Alice King founded one of the first contemporary gallery in Hong Kong in 1981 and was a major patron of the arts. Her uncle was the first Chief Executive in Hong Kong. Part of her family lived in Monaco, but Yvette studies architecture in the East Coast of the US. Armani was her designer of choice. Maxence de Lanversin was her cavalier.
The Partners of le Bal
• Shangri-La Paris, the hotel venue of le Bal
• V MUSE Jewelry, the jeweler of le Bal
The Charities of le Bal:
• Necker-Enfants Malades hospital:
• ARCFA – Association for the Cardiology Research from Fetus to Adult
• WCK – World Central Kitchen
Star hairstylist Alexander von Trentini
Studio Vanssay, Daniel Paik, and Yunling Fang